President is not our Pastor-in-chief — Seattle Atheists lauds federal court decision

Saturday, April 17, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Case
President of Seattle Atheists
P.O. Box 283, Seattle, WA 98111-0283
(206) 826-0770
president@seattleatheists.org
www.seattleatheists.org

PRESIDENT IS NOT OUR PASTOR-IN-CHIEF — SEATTLE ATHEISTS LAUDS FEDERAL COURT DECISION

SEATTLE — Seattle Atheists would like state our support for the ruling made by U.S. District judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling that the National Day of Prayer violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional.

The National Day of Prayer was first introduced in 1952 at the height of the Cold War, and officially set as the first Thursday in May by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. It is a day when the President of the United States calls upon the nation’s citizens to pray, which Judge Barbara Crabb ruled, “is an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.”

“I have heard the argument that the National Day of Prayer doesn’t promote a particular religion,” says Paul Case, president of Seattle Atheists, “but go to the official website and click on the ‘Why Pray’ link, and it is immediately obvious that this is promoting a wholly Christian endeavor. And that should be offensive to people, and not just atheists — but to all of us. How can that be seen as anything but respecting an establishment of religion?”

The law reads, “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” This clearly demonstrates the sectarian and exclusionary nature of the law.

“Our President is the leader of a nation with a secular constitution,” says Case. “He isn’t our pastor, minister or priest. It isn’t just that he shouldn’t compel us to pray, it’s that he’s constitutionally barred from using his public office as a church pulpit.”

Seattle Atheists would like to express its appreciation to the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org), who initiated the lawsuit, and give our moral support for the inevitable appeals still to come. We stand firm in the assertion that people of all religious denominations, or none, are best served by the secular government laid out by the Founding Fathers — a government that neither encourages nor discourages religious belief or practice. We feel that President Thomas Jefferson summed it up best when he said, “The President of the United States has no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

Seattle Atheists is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to serving the atheist community in the Seattle area. We strive to promote understanding and respect toward all freethinkers by providing information, creating a sense of fellowship, actively opposing discrimination, and above all, emphasizing reason, critical thinking over supernaturalism, and for the separation of church and state.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Paul Case, President of Seattle Atheists, (206) 826-0770, president@seattleatheists.org

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